ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE
July 15, 2016
Case # 16HF0955
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was arraigned today on charges of human trafficking, pimping, and pandering a woman and monitoring and controlling her by using a surveillance camera. Elliot Lee, 40, Irvine, is charged with one felony count of human trafficking, one felony count of pimping, one felony count of pandering as an inmate in a house of prostitution, two misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, and one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration. He is being held on $250,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. Lee was arraigned today and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on July 25, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
Circumstances of the Case
Lee is accused of being a pimp/human trafficker who exploits women for financial gain. Pimps often establish rigid rules that their victims are expected to follow including setting daily quotas that the victims are expected to fulfill. Victims are often required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp. Failure to follow these rules can result in physical and/or emotional abuse.
Between May 1, 2015, and July 13, 2016, Lee is accused of having Jane Doe post sexually explicit advertisements on a website known for commercial sex. He is accused of collecting all of the money the victim earned from engaging in commercial sex for his own benefit. Lee is accused of monitoring the victim while he was away by using a motion detection camera in their apartment to keep track of how many commercial sex purchasers the victim encountered and to keep track of the money she was receiving.
On July 13, 2016, Jane Doe’s mother contacted the Irvine Police Department (IPD) after she spoke to Jane Doe about the defendant. IPD arrived to the apartment and arrested Lee. At the time of his arrest, Lee is accused of possessing heroin, methamphetamine, and needles in the apartment.
Members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) and the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Office work proactively to protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. This case was investigated by IPD and OCHTTF, a partnership between Anaheim Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Huntington Beach Police Department, IPD, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Ana Police Department and community and non-profit partners.
Deputy District Attorney Bryan Clavecilla of the HEAT Unit is prosecuting this case.
Proposition 35 and HEAT
In November 2012, California’s anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 (Prop 35) was enacted in California with 81 percent of the vote, and over 82 percent of the vote in Orange County, to increase the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force.
A component of the OCHTTF is the OCDA’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, which targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. The HEAT Unit uses a tactical plan called PERP: Prosecution, to bring justice for victims of human trafficking and hold perpetrators responsible using Prop 35; Education, to provide law enforcement training to properly handle human trafficking and pandering cases; Resources from public-private partnerships to raise public awareness about human trafficking and provide assistance to the victims; andPublicity, to inform the public and send a message to human traffickers that this crime cannot be perpetrated without suffering severe consequences.
Under the law, human trafficking is described as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to effect a violation of pimping or pandering. Pimping is described as knowingly deriving financial support in whole or in part from the proceeds of prostitution. Pandering is the act of persuading or procuring an individual to become a prostitute, or procuring and/or arranging for a person work in a house of prostitution.
Penal Code Section 236.1 defines:
(1) “Coercion” includes any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process; debt bondage; or providing and facilitating the possession of any controlled substance to a person with the intent to impair the person’s judgment.
(2) “Commercial sex act” means sexual conduct on account of which anything of value is given or received by any person.
(3) “Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another” includes substantial and sustained restriction of another’s liberty accomplished through force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely that the person making the threat would carry it out.
(4) “Duress” includes a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution sufficient to cause a reasonable person to acquiesce in or perform an act which he or she would otherwise not have submitted to or performed; a direct or implied threat to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate, or possess any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim; or knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim.
(5) “Forced labor or services” means labor or services that are performed or provided by a person and are obtained or maintained through force, fraud, duress, or coercion, or equivalent conduct that would reasonably overbear the will of the person.
(6) “Great bodily injury” means a significant or substantial physical injury.
(7) “Minor” means a person less than 18 years of age.
(8) “Serious harm” includes any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing labor, services, or commercial sexual acts in order to avoid incurring that harm.
(i) The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, the relationship between the victim and the trafficker or agents of the trafficker, and any handicap or disability of the victim, shall be factors to consider in determining the presence of “deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another,” “duress,” and “coercion” as described in this section.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff